Mobile users who would like to switch their voice mail to Google voice can now do so, without losing their existing mobile number. Previously, "Going Google" required using a Google-supplied telephone number.
However, those who keep their current mobile numbers will miss some of Gvoice's most advanced features. Nevertheless, Gvoice offers--for free--voice mail features that most mobile users have previously only been able to dream about.
"We're excited to announce that you now can get Google Voice with a Google number or with your existing mobile phone number. If you choose to use Google Voice with your existing number, you won't get some features (like call screening and recording), but you'll still get many others -- including Google voicemail," the company said in a blog post announcing the changes.
(Here is our hands-on review of Gvoice).
Here is the feature list for those who sign-up for Google voice with their existing number:
- Online, searchable voicemail
- Free automated voicemail transcription
- Custom voicemail greetings for different callers
- Email and SMS notifications
- Low-priced international calling
Those who choose to get a new Google number get all the above, plus these additional features:
- One number that reaches you on all your phones
- SMS via email
- Call screening
- Listen In
- Call recording
- Conference calling
- Call blocking
Google voice remains an "invitation-only" service, but invites aren't too hard to get. Ask someone who already uses the service to invite you (though be aware they may have already run through their limited invitation stash) or ask for an invitation here.
My take: I love Google voice and am tempted to make the change on my iPhone, but fear losing AT&T's visual voicemail features. I've considered replacing my wireline phone with Gvoice, but the service doesn't(yet) easily support multiple users sharing a single number.
For now, I will continue using RingCentral for my small business and AT&T Unified Messaging at home, but both of those may be short-lived when Google voice adds necessary features.